Singapore Premier League • November 6, 2015

White Swans Dig Deep To Defeat Protectors


Written by: Shawn Lim

Albirex Niigata (S) had to come from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory over Home United at Yishun Stadium on Thursday night.

A powerful header from Song Uiyong gave the hosts the lead in the first half, before the White Swans grabbed the equaliser through Kento Fujihara and sealed the game minutes later when Atsushi Kawata finished from close range.

The victory sees the White Swans move up to third place in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League table, four points adrift of leaders Brunei DPMM while the Protectors remained in sixth place with 33 points.

Both sides had already played each other twice this season and with both games ending in a goalless stalemate, another tight game was expected again.

With that in mind, the Protectors looked to start quickly and the game’s first opportunity fell for the hosts in just the first minute when Azhar Sairudin fired narrowly wide after being played through by Ambroise Begue.

The visitors had their first sight at goal eight minutes later though, when Kawata blazed a free kick from 30 yards out just over the frame of the goal.

Azhar wasted another golden opportunity in the 13th minute after he fired Kamel Ramdani’s cut-back high and wide despite being unmarked in the 18-yard box.

Begue was next to try his luck three minutes later when he dazzled his way to the edge of 18-yard box from the right flank, but Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa got down well to smother the Frenchman’s fierce drive.

That turned out to be the last piece of action for Begue, as the 19-year-old had to be replaced soon after by Stanely Ng after picking up a knock.

The White Swans could have taken the lead in the 20th minute, but Fumiya Kogure’s dangerous free-kick came off the woodwork and into the arms of Home custodian Shahril Jantan.

The hosts finally went ahead eight minutes later when Song headed home Noh Rahman’s pin-point cross at the far post to give Home the lead.

Albirex could have pulled level before the interval in the 42nd minute when Rion Taki found himself unmarked 20 yards outside of the box, but fired an effort that sailed over the bar.

Goalscoring chances remained at a premium for the two sides after the interval and the first chance of the second period fell to the White Swans on the hour mark.

However, Kawata’s header from Itsuki Yamada’s cross failed to trouble Shahril at his near post.

The White Swans gradually got more of a foothold of the game and eventually found the equaliser in the 76th minute when Kogure’s free-kick crashed off the crossbar and Fujihara poked home the rebound.

The Japanese side edged further ahead just four minutes later when Shun Inaba threaded a through ball to the unmarked Kawata and the latter shot the ball through Shahril’s legs to complete the White Swans’ comeback.

There was an opportunity for Home to grab the equaliser six minutes from time, but Ilso failed to get his piledriver from just outside the box on target as Albirex held on for the crucial three points.

Home United: Shahril Jantan (GK), Juma’at Jantan (Sirina Camara 88’), Abdil Qaiyyim, Noh Rahman (C), R Aaravin, Song Uiyong, Yasir Hanapi, Kamel Ramdani, Azhar Sairudin (Sufianto Salleh 76’), Ambroise Begue (Stanely Ng 21’), Ken Ilso

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK) (C), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Takahiro Saito, Itsuki Yamada, Shun Inaba (Ryuki Matsuya 90’), Hikaru Mizuno, Yusuke Mukai (Kento Nagasaki 80’), Fumiya Kogure, Atsushi Kawata, Rion Taki